Diego Rivera | Mustang News
Diego Rivera | Mustang News

May 25

George Floyd, 46-years-old, died after law enforcement knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd became unconscious and emergency medical services transported him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead after suffering a cardiac arrest.

May 26

Hundreds of people protested in Minneapolis in response to Floyd’s death. 

May 30

About 40 activists in San Luis Obispo stood on the corner in front of the police station in solidarity with Floyd. Each time the traffic light changed, cars would honk in support of the protestors. 

May 31

A protest that started with a speech from Tianna Arata led hundreds of protestors through downtown San Luis Obispo.

“We [San Luis Obispo] lack diversity. We lack voice. We lack community, and it’s suffocating,” Arata said. “I feel every day in this town like I can’t breathe. I am being suffocated.”

Only 2.1 percent of San Luis Obispo County’s population is Black; 22.8 percent is Hispanic or Latino, 4 percent is Asian, 1.4 percent is Native American and 88.8 percent is white, according to the 2010 census

“Someone asked me what it’s like to be Black, and I still have the same answer for them. I love it, it’s dope. But I have to address something, that’s just as painful. I’m terrified … I’m scared to dress a certain way because I’m afraid of ruffling the feathers of people who don’t have open minds, so they might think something of me because they chose to see the color of my skin before they saw me as a damn person. I’m terrified just to be me, to simply be me.”
Local poet Anton Bird


Diego Rivera | Mustang News

June 1

San Luis Obispo protestors marched onto Highway 101 and blocked traffic. Partway through the protest, it was declared an unlawful assembly due to public safety risks, Police Chief Deanna Cantrell tweeted. 

After exiting the freeway, they were stopped by law enforcement in riot gear, who asked protestors to disperse during a standstill. After giving them a warning, law enforcement deployed tear gas, firecrackers and rubber bullets into the crowd. A total of seven arrests were made.

June 3

A student-led protest marched through downtown. The protest ended peacefully. 

June 4

NAACP slo county, RACE Matters SLO and Cal Poly Black Faculty and Staff organized a protest of about 3,000 people through downtown which ended peacefully.

“This is not just about George Floyd, this is about all the injustices we face every day, systematically,”
R.A.C.E Matters SLO Founder Courtney Halie

Local activist Tianna Arata said that in addition to protesting and advocating for systematic change in SLO, she wants to help build a community of Black people to come together to support each other in joyous times, too. 

“We don’t want to just unite for rallies and protests, we want to unite just to have a group Black people, because Black joy is important, it’s vital, and it’s what can keep this movement going.” local activist Tianna Arata said. “You can’t wear yourself down with hatred, you have to be positive and look at what you have accomplished; take it one step at a time.”

June 5- Students for Quality Education (SQE) and Cal Poly’s Black Student Union lead a protest. The protest was initially discouraged by other activist groups, because SQE said they would respect a “diversity of tactics.”

“We are peaceful and nonviolent, but we don’t condemn people who choose not to follow the police’s orders,” an Instagram post read.

The protest was later promoted when SQE and the Black Student Union clarified the protest would be peaceful, and the protest ended without any violence.

June 8

Tianna Arata, Jalen Hamler, Xavier Moore and RACE Matters SLO hosted a “Call to Action” protest.

June 16

SLO City Council declared racism a public health emergency. This allows the city to allocate funds towards public health issues that affect marginalized communities.

“We want all people to feel honored and respected, and, at this time, the Black identifying people of color are not feeling that. We want to figure out how we can continue to help as a council, and as a city.” 
Councilmember Erica A. Stewart on behalf of the council

City Council collaborated with young activists Xavier Moore, Jalen Hamler and Tianna Arata to create the ordinance. 

“There’ll be more funding for programs that combat racism,” Moore said. “When I say combat racism, I don’t just mean combating people who are racist, I mean combating the systems of racism, developing nonprofits, you know, changing curriculum in schools, fighting against environmental racism.”

Solena Aguilar | Mustang News

July 21

Tianna Arata was arrested at a protest she organized after protestors blocked traffic on Highway 101. Arata faces charges of five felonies and three misdemeanors.

Aug 14

The Free Tianna Coalition was formed to demand the charges against Arata be dropped.

Aug 20

The San Luis Obispo Democratic Party released a statement demanding District Attorney Dan Dow to not pursue the charges against Arata.

Andy Sherar | Mustang News

Aug 25

The #FreeTianna press conference and rally is attended by hundreds of activists. Speakers include local and national activists who called for the dropping of charges against Arata. Arata’s attorney, Curtis Briggs, called for San Luis Obispo police chief Deanna Cantrell to step down. 

“This is about love, this is not political, this is a human rights issue,” local teacher and Tianna Arata’s mother Michelle Arata said. “My daughter’s life is at stake, her future is at stake. She is my world, do not take her from me.”

Aug. 27

San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell announced she would be leaving her position to be the police chief of the city of Fairfield. Cantrell started the recruitment process for her new job in May, according to a press release. 

Sept 3

The scheduled court date for Arata. 

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